The Towards Maturity Journey: Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company
The Towards Maturity Learning Health Check provides an ideal starting point for organisations wanting to improve their development, by giving clear evidence and comparisons with high-performing learning cultures. To get a real idea of how the Health Check has a proven business impact, we spoke with Robin Lilly, Capabilities and Leadership Development Director of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, to hear his experiences.
How did you hear of Towards Maturity?
I have been using Towards Maturity’s resources for a while; in fact, it’s one of the main resources I use to stay current.
What made you first take the Learning Health Check?
I have completed the Health Check five times so far. I think it’s important to benchmark; for me it’s a continuous activity that you should be engaged in. Each time we take the review, the results improve. It’s like self-diagnostics; once you identify the problem you can focus on how to fix it!
When you first completed the Health Check, did it uncover areas that you knew you needed to work on?
The review gave me insights into how we could improve. It re-enforced our views but provided the evidence on areas we intuitively knew needed to be improved and allowed us to engage in changes in a more structured and systematic way.
Do you use the Health Check to help with business buy-in?
Definitely, yes. This is one of the key reasons we do it. We use the Health Check results to demonstrate an external perspective of what good learning looks like. So, we use the survey as part of the information used to demonstrate areas we could improve. We then review our results on an annual basis as part of our business planning. We are results driven as a company, so it’s in our DNA to understand how we are doing.
“For me it’s like a continuous activity that you should be engaged in. Each time we take the review, the results improve.”
How has the Health Check created business impact?
One of the things we have been looking at is how we deploy development at an optimum time for people; so, we have several strategies about how we operate learning and leadership development. One of those is that we believe that there are specific times as leaders transition in their career when certain activities have a disproportionate impact, and there are times when a very effective solution deployed at the wrong time has minimal return on investment.
We have established that we need to deploy access to learning at the right time. We have discovered simple things that make a difference. For example, for new employees we give them very clear on-boarding plans. The new employees are allocated mentors which often transition into coaching relationships. We have certain triggers where we deploy certain activities; for example, new employees over their first 30 to 90 days are encouraged to spend time with their managers, their customers and their team.
At around 6 to 12 months, our leaders have enough experience to see what is working and what is not and will understand how the context of what they are operating differs to their old job role or company. This is a good time for us to help them work out what changes they want to make and at this point we can deploy more formal development around that person as an individual leader.
We analyse this, looking at the impact of different learning initiatives from the perspective of the learner and from the line leader; correlating that to business results, establishing how it affects the team engagement of the line manager, the productivity of the team, the turnover and the retention. We try to set up clear, measurable business KPI’s that we can quantify in terms of ROI.
We now recognise that we can help transition. For example, we have introduced a programme called ‘Fast Forward’ for employees we have identified as talented with potential. We then support these people by building their skills and knowledge, so when they transition to their new role, they can become more successful faster. We measure this speed to performance versus those who haven’t been through the programme.
We have established that the best time to make investment in people is when they are transitioning into a new role because this is when they need the most support.
“We then review our results on an annual basis as part of our business planning. We are results driven as a company so it’s in our DNA to understand how we are doing.”
One of the benefits of moving to a more centralised learning organisation is that you have more unified approaches, meaning you can deploy more sophisticated processes like evaluation techniques. If you are more unified you can use technology at scale, which requires systemisation.
Previously, locations wouldn’t have the capabilities or the intent on implementing systems like these because they don’t have a big enough pool of people. Now we are looking across the whole enterprise, allowing us to carry out meaningful analytics on impact across much larger data sets.
Has the Health Check helped you in creating a learning culture?
We were unsure how to move the idea from learning being an event which is curated and managed by central teams, versus learning as a continuous business activity that should be promoted and become part of the culture.
The learning function is there to enable and support learning but not to control and manage it. We are trying to move towards more social, collaborative learning approaches. Learning is not just about creating specific course content and deploying it; it’s more about creating communities using technology like Yammer which encourage employees to connect.
We wanted to understand the perception of what learning looks like, how to stop using the word training and think more about why learning is more of a cultural journey, which we’re still on.
Towards Maturity insights have helped us have conversations about learning throughout the business. The research demonstrates that our projects aren’t just a ‘nice to do’. People have expectations of how they learn. From a competitor advantage, if you want the speed and ability to be agile you can’t rely on annual programmes, you’ve got to think about how to liberate people to learn as they need it. We have a lot of knowledge inside the organisation, so we need to decide how we can use that more effectively.
“We wanted to understand the perception of what learning looks like, and think more about why learning is more of a cultural journey, which we’re still on.”
What advice would you give to somebody taking the Learning Health Check?
Firstly, be open to the fact that you can improve, so don’t expect 10 out of 10 with a gold star! Approach it with a humility that there’s a high probability there will be items you can do better and be open to those opportunities.
Also, make sure that you share the outputs. Use it as an accelerator with your internal L&D function to establish how to work best with the insights. Then openly share the results with the business to demonstrate how things can be done better.
Were there other ways in which the Learning Health Check helped you?
For me, the Towards Maturity insights helped me decide that I had to get closer to the business and to what the business needs. In the old days, L&D wouldn’t be worried about vacancy rates; now, one of the main things we think about is how quickly we can fill positions and get people up to being top performers as quickly as possible. It’s a real issue which keeps leaders awake at night and it’s a clear, tangible measure that we can focus on.
The piece on information technology helped. We were at Learning Technologies in London, which was good to confirm some of the things we are doing, but we now focusing on our use of technology to provide scale and to move to more continuous learning versus event-based learning. This was very helpful when evaluating our use of technology and other things you can blend.
To begin the next steps of your learning journey, complete the Learning Health Check today at towardsmaturity.org/healthcheck
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